China's rival to Boeing 737 and Airbus A320 completes its first pre-delivery Shanghai test flight ahead of handover to customer
China's C919 aircraft completed its first pre-delivery test flight in Shanghai, bringing its manufacturer one step closer to offering a replacement for Boeing's 737 and Airbus' A320 single-aisle airliner in the global aviation market.
The Commercial Aircraft Corp of China (Comac) completed a three-hour test flight at Shanghai's Pudong International Airport on Saturday morning, according to a statement on its website.
"This was a successful test flight of the first C919 aircraft prior to its delivery to the first customer," Comac said. "The flight test completed all the planned tasks and the aircraft performed well and was in good condition."
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The successful test flight is a boost for state-owned Comac, which has received 28 customer orders for up to 815 C919 aircraft, according to its website. The test showed the determination of Shanghai authorities to get business back on track after confining the city since March 1.
The official launch of Comac's C919 on November 2, 2015 in Pudong, Shanghai. Photo by Chen Xiao alt=Comac's C919 official launch on November 2, 2015 in Pudong, Shanghai. Photo: Chen Xiao>
Up to 3,000 Comac employees had been working in "closed loop" conditions - where they had to undergo daily tests for Covid-19 and sleep on site to ensure there was no contact with outsiders - to get the plane ready to fly phase, ”said the manufacturer.
Shanghai's home carrier China Eastern Airlines is poised to take delivery of five of the C919 aircraft purchased in March 2021 at a list price of $99 million each. China's third-largest airline plans to use the new aircraft on domestic routes from Pudong to Beijing, Guangzhou. Shenzhen and Chengdu, China Eastern said.
Components of C919. Photo: Twitter alt=Components of the C919. Photo: Twitter>
China is one of the fastest growing civil aviation markets in the world and the C919 is the country's ambitious attempt to produce its first commercial aircraft to meet its own growing demand.
The project's success would be economically beneficial for China, as it could break the country's dependency on the duopoly currently enjoyed by Boeing and Airbus and has the potential to catapult Comac into the multi-billion dollar airline industry.
C919 was highlighted by President Xi Jinping in his 2017 report to the Chinese legislature during the 19th National Congress to serve as an engine for China's "new development model" alongside other scientific achievements.
Comac began development of the C919 in 2008 but missed the previous deadline to deliver its first aircraft by the end of 2021.
While the C919 marks China's efforts to reduce dependence on Airbus and Boeing, the plane still depends on foreign companies like General Electric and Honeywell for many critical parts.
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